As most of you know, having published my first e-book, ‘Farholm’ on Amazon in the spring, I have been furiously editing my next novel, The Stalking of Rosa Czekov’.
‘Rosa’ is so nearly finished, the reviewing and revising so nearly complete that I wish to announce the publication date…
21st June 2012
I would like to share with you the first chapter… for you eyes only!!
The first person to arrive at the cemetery stepped cautiously through the gates just after five in the morning. Her trainers left their marks on the path as she hesitantly walked towards the western end. The dew was heavy, the grass beaded and bent as if burdened.
She was very tired, she had been driving all night and she walked slowly but even so she missed her way. She retraced her footsteps and took a side path and found the grave. She looked around as if someone might be here even at this early hour then squatted and read the inscription. She shook her head as if mystified, gave a small sad smile and quickly left the graveyard.
The next person to arrive came nearly an hour later, still early enough to avoid the risk of meeting another. He approached the cemetery, entered and made his way to the grave. He had a single rose and laid it gently at the foot of the marble stone, stood with head bowed for a moment and then thoughtfully made his way back to his car parked in a pub car park beyond a row of nearby shops on Cemetery Drive.
Just before eight o’clock a car stopped across the gates and another man jumped out. He walked quickly into the cemetery and straight along the path, turning left to the grave he sought. He placed the small posy he was clutching on the pea gravel before the stone. He took a deep breath as if he was only just holding onto his composure, his jaw working, his lips pressed hard together. He wanted to say something it was clear but he glanced at his watch, swallowed down his words and his emotions and walked away as rapidly as he had come.
A car drew up behind his. The door opened and a woman stepped onto the pavement and they brushed cheeks in an insincere greeting. They exchanged a few words, the man bending to nod and mouth a greeting to her passenger.
The man drove off as the woman hurried into the graveyard, her heels clicking as she walked. She spent a few minutes tidying the grave, emptying the sunken pot of its murky water and putting in her own bunch of flowers. She primped them, tweaking them into position as she might her hair. She looked around, saw a jar on the next grave, emptied it of its wilting contents and inserted the posy the man had left. She pulled up a few little weeds before leaving swiftly without a backwards glance, as if she might be late.
A distant church struck eight. A third man had been waiting for more than two hours in the shadow of the war memorial on the corner of Cemetery Drive. As the woman and her passenger drove away he walked to the gates and then past them without a glance. At the end of the cemetery wall he turned and walked back again, passing the gate a second time. The third time he entered without checking his purposeful stride.
Although he knew where to go, although he had been many times before he walked straight to the northern wall where he turned and stood beside a tree, looking down the long tarmacced path. He stood, hands in pockets, as if unaware of the tears tracking down his cheeks. The sudden shrieking chatter of a magpie made him look up and he wiped his eyes; he made his slow way down the main path, turning off to his right. He stood still then squatted, one arm along the top of the gravestone, and brushed the face of it with his fingertips. He bent forward, and leant his forehead against the cold marble.